Mobile operators have rejected government plans for national roaming saying the network sharing proposals are unworkable
National roaming had been seen by culture secretary Sajid Javid as a way of improving signal in rural ‘not-spots’ by allowing mobile users to use another operator’s network should their own be unavailable.
Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey had apparently written to all four major UK operators, but all have resisted the idea since its inception, with some suggesting it would remove any incentive to invest in their networks in order to provide better coverage than their competitors.
Vaizey has apparently asked operators to come up with alternative options with basic infrastructure sharing being a far more likely option, according to the Financial Times. However the lack of enthusiasm is a blow for the DCMS, which had hoped to reach a network sharing agreement in time for the UK general election next year.
The government has already made a number of moves to improve rural mobile coverage. As part of O2’s license for the 800MHz spectrum it won in last year’s 4G auction, Ofcom requires the operator to provide a mobile broadband service to 98 percent of the UK population and at least 95 percent of the population of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
It has also awarded communications infrastructure provider Arqiva a £150 million contract to improve mobile services in rural areas as part of the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP). This mirrors initiatives to improve fixed line broadband such as the £530 million Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project and a new £250 million fund to extend coverage using alternative technologies such as wireless and satellite.
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